The year is 1856, and the Eunsons (Robert, portrayed by Cameron Mitchell, and Mamie, portrayed by Glynis Johns) have just arrived in America from Scotland. They’ve been invited to the small village of Eureka by Mamie’s uncle, whom they plan to live with.
Upon arrival in Eureka, though, the Eunsons are given bad news: Mamie’s uncle was killed recently in a house fire, and little survives of his cabin. Robert and Mamie, with some help from a gaggle of helpful, caring townspeople, are able to rebuild the house in time for the birth of their first son, Robert Jr. or “Robbie” (Rex Thompson). Robert the elder gets a job in the local logging industry, and things begin looking up.
Years pass, and Mamie gives birth to five more children: Jimmy (Stephen Wootton), Kirk (Butch Bernard), Anabelle (Patty McCormack), Elizabeth (Yolanda White) and Jane (Terry Ann Ross). Robert starts his own business building boats, and the family is very happy.
Tragedy strikes again, though, when Kirk contracts diptheria, with Robert Sr. soon succumbing to illness as well. Robbie must become the new head of the household, struggling along with his mother Mamie to keep the family afloat through periods of tragedy.
Allen Reisner directs 1957’s All Mine to Give. This 103-minute long family drama is based on a true story and was scripted by Dale and Katherine Eunson, from Dale’s Cosmopolitan Magazine article “The Day They Gave Babies Away.”
Let me begin by saying that my assumptions of this film were completely misguided. The poster used on the cover of the 4 Film Favorites: Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2 set in which it appears features smiling children and the tagline “Six kids on a true and wonderful adventure!” Based on this cover art, I thought I was in for a snowy, cheerful and nostalgic film about kids being kids during the holiday season — like a saccharine and less-funny version of A Christmas Story, but with more siblings.
Boy, was I in for a rude awakening! Within the first five minutes of the film, we learn of the death of Mamie’s uncle, and despite a few periods of prosperity, things generally go downhill from there.
There is some humor to be had here, particularly in the film’s first half, but throughout most of its running time All Mine to Give is a real tearjerker. Just about everything bad that could happen to the family happens to them, and the performances are very effective, making the story even more heart-wrenching to watch.
I would recommend All Mine to Give, but only if you’re in the mood to shed some tears. It’s a great drama but you’ll definitely need a palate-cleanser (like this video of a puppy yawning… though if you love puppies as much as I do, that might just make you cry more) to improve your mood afterwards! The score: 4/5